Economist Says Kansas Growth Still Slow Partially Due to Tax Environment

Michael Austin, an economist with the Sandlian Center for Entrepreneurial Government at the Kansas Policy Institute sees reasons the economy in Kansas isn’t growing as fast as the rest of the country even though he argues that in 2018, Kansans wanted a different approach to the state’s finances.

“Government grew nonetheless and it’s now the largest it’s ever been,” said Austin. “The tax increases to finance that growth haven’t stopped. We had two tax increases this year. Did doing the same thing over and over again result in something different, at least in terms of our economic well-being? If you remember the definition of insanity, the answer, unfortunately, is no.”

The Kansas 2019 private sector is the second-slowest growing in the country.

“What we’ve seen for the past 40 years is this type of stagnation, slower growth than the national average,” said Austin. “It has continued into this year, even though, of course, I argued that when Kansans went to that ballot box, they wanted something different.”

It’s not that tax policy will fix everything that’s wrong with Kansas, but Austin says it does matter.

“It should come as no surprise that when the government has such a willingness to accelerate spending, that means of course, higher taxes for Kansans,” said Austin. “Kiplinger, which is a business forecasting and financial advice periodical, says Kansas has the 10th least tax-friendly state in the nation and it has the 3rd least tax friendly state for retirees.”

Kansas government growth was the 15th fastest in the country between June of 2018 and the end of the 2019 legislative session.